AFFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may receive monetary compensation for links to products from this post. However, I only recommend products that I personally love and use myself!.
I am most likely going to piss off some people with this post, but the information that I found was too good to keep to myself and keep you guys in the dark. As always, you should do your own research and question everything (even me!!). I ALMOST fell for the ploy. I got really excited because I felt like I was about to embark on a journey into the world of “top quality essential oils”. I thought that the lines I was being fed about these oils being “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” (or “CPTG”), “100% pure therapeutic grade”, and “therapeutic quality” meant that these essential oils HAD TO BE THE BEST. I was about to find out that all of these descriptions meant nothing in the eyes of the FDA and the aromatherapy world; they were just that, descriptions.
In my ever growing quest to find the healthiest options in my life, I began to wonder
What is in a smell?
You may be asking yourself, “so, which brand would you recommend I buy, Christina?” and that would be the same question that I was asking myself. With all of these brands telling me that theirs was the best, I wasn't sure which brand to pick. I had been using Now Foods essential oils and Aura Casia for quite awhile and was seeing success with these brands. I was curious if these more affordable essential oils are working so well, how much better would the “high-end therapeutic grade” essential oils perform?
It's all just marketing
I decided that it was time to upgrade my essential oils, and signed up to sell doTERRA essential oils. I didn't really plan on selling essential oils to many people, as I was just looking to get the 25% off discount that you get for being an “Independent Product Consultant” or “IPC” as they call them. When the introductory 3-pack of essential oils (lavender, peppermint, and lemon) came in, I was really excited to smell the difference! The first one that I opened was the peppermint essential oil and I was shocked at what a candy-like smell it had. It smelled so deliciously sweet that I was blown away because all of the other peppermint essential oils that I owned smelled of the herbaceous earthy peppermint that you find in the garden; doTERRA's peppermint essential oils smelled like the finest peppermint candy I had ever smelled. I assumed, that since these essential oils are 100% pure and “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”, that the higher end brands had better smelling peppermint. This excited me, I could smell a difference! I had been afraid that I wouldn't be able to smell the difference. The funny thing is, I thought that because the doTERRA essential oils smelled better AND are “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”, that they were better…but I was only listening to the MARKETING.
It took a friend to open my eyes
In my quest, I had gotten so excited that I forgot to look into what these companies were telling me about their products. It took a blogging friend to point me to the path of truth and discovery. She recommended I check out a series of posts that a blogger friend of hers had done on this exact topic, which essential oils would be best to purchase. The first of seven posts, is called “The Great Essential Oils Showdown ~ Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1” and it is worth every second of reading! I began to search deeper, trying to find out which essential oils were higher quality and which weren't until I came across something that opened my eyes as to how I looked at these “high end” essential oils.
Why I will NOT buy my oils from any of the MLM companies…
The main reason I will not buy essential oils from any of the MLM companies is that they lead their customers to believe that when they say their product is “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”, that means something of value in the essential oil and aromatherapy world. There were three shocking things I learned that lead me to steer clear of these:
- There is no governing body that certifies essential oils.
- There are no grades of essential oils based on their quality. There is no grade A, B, C, nor is there an actual classification in the aromatherapy world for “therapeutic grade”. From The ‘Therapeutic Grade’ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign: A spokesperson for AFNOR confirmed to Cropwatch (March 2006) that they (AFNOR) do not have a standard for therapeutic grade essential oils (and neither does ISO) and so they do not differentiate between any ‘Grade A’ and ‘therapeutic grade essential oils’, as per YLEO claim. This situation with AFNOR's policy has not changed since 2006, at the present date of writing (Dec 2009). Further, essential oils have never been classified in grades described as A, B, C as suggested by YLEO, and would surely not find any customers for grades less than A grade, even if they did exist! In reality, essential oils used by aromatherapists include minor essential oils, oils of different geographic origins and specific chemotypes not covered by AFNOR or ISO standards.
- The words that these companies use such as “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”, are TRADEMARKED PHRASES by their corresponding essential oil company. This means that the reason each of these companies claims that “no other company can say….”, I because their company has trademarked the words…from the doTERRA website: “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade is a registered trademark of dōTERRA Holdings, LLC representing internal standards of quality assessment and material control. The CPTG protocol is not administered by government or industry regulatory agencies and does not imply regulatory approval of dōTERRA products.”
So which essential oils should I buy?
As you can see, the choice for the right essential oil brand can be very convoluted. There are so many brands on the market, it can be hard to sift through the duds to find the right ones. The key is taking a step back and listening to what the companies are saying. You should also make sure to read the labels, your essential oil label should say 100% pure and not “blend” or “with jojoba/almond” as that means they are already diluted and not just pure essential oil. According to The East-West School For Herbal and Aromatic Studies, some of the qualities that you want to look for in an essential oil supplier are:
- the supplier is on the small size and not a large corporation.
- the supplier is owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist
- the supplier has relations with his/her distillers, if possible
- a supplier who can readily supply a batch-specific MS/GC spec report on each essential oil it sells
- a supplier who is readily able to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) as needed
- a supplier who has a strong unquestioned noncontroversial reputation in the field
- a supplier who has preferably been in the field for a number of years and is well known to other aromatherapy practitioners and/or educators
What I look for in my essential oil brands
Checking into the supplier can be important to picking your brand, but there are also other qualities I look for in a company that I buy essential oils from. Some of the questions that I ask myself are:
- Do they promote the unsafe use of essential oils? Some companies, many of the MLM companies included, promote some very unsafe practices, using essential oils. If you want to be a Registered Aromatherapist you have to follow certain safety rules to remain registered, including the use of internal ingestion (unless you are a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level.), undiluted use, and Raindrop Techniques (Aroma Touch or other similar techniques.). These practices are prohibited by the AIA (Alliance of International Aromatherapists) if you want to remain a registered member. You can read more about essential oil safety and ingestion.
- Do they sell essential oils of plants that are endangered? There are quite a few companies that are harvesting and using essential oils of plants that are endangered. You should be asking where your essential oil has come from; is it “endangered” and is the supplier trying to sell you an inferior/substituted product in its place, claiming that it is the same “quality” and standard. If it is extracted from an endangered plant species, what is the current level of threat to that plant species? Finally, is there an alternative essential oil, with similar chemical components and properties that you could be using?
- Are they an eco-conscious company? One of the reasons I choose the essential oil (and herb) company that I use for my personal and business needs, is because of their sustainable practices. I am very passionate about being eco-friendly and when a business goes to such lengths to be a zero-waste company as well as put time and money into other eco-conscious projects, I really have to take notice.
“not for internal consumption” labels
I learned from reading a FAQ for Beeyoutiful Essential Oils that the reason for smaller essential oils companies labeling their essential oils “not for internal consumption” and are able to price their oils at a much lower price than many of the MLM companies is because of insurance costs. The only way to get a label on their bottles without the “not for internal consumption” words printed on it, is for the company to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on insurance and training programs/literature. This is the reason for such a high price and such a small bottle. A bottle labeled as such is not necessarily a lower quality essential oil, the company just couldn't or didn't want to purchase the high price tag insurance that goes along with labeling for internal consumption.
In my aromatherapy certification studies, I have learned you should be very careful about the essential oils that you are ingesting, as they are VERY POTENT. One drop of essential oil can be equivalent to drinking 75 cups of tea of the same herb. It is best to consult a certified aromatherapist for internal use of essential oils. I personally do not suggest using essential oils for internal consumption. In the US, certified aromatherapists can't find insurance for ingestion in their practice because it's considered medical practice. If you go further and test to get your RA (Registered Aromatherapist) you are prohibited from including ingestion in your practice because it can't be insured unless you are a certified medical professional. It can be very dangerous taking essential oils internally because they can mix with your current medications, your current medical state, and more. Just like taking pharmaceuticals, you need to consult a professional so that you don't accidentally create a toxic situation.
For more on essential oil safety and use
There is a lot of misinformation on the web, in books and by word of mouth, about the use of essential oils. No matter the brand that you choose to go with, using essential oils safely is the most important factor. ALL essential oils (no matter their brand) can be dangerous if not used with caution and care. To learn more about how to SAFELY use essential oils you can read my latest post: Introduction to Essential Oil Safety
The brands that I have purchased and used are:
I put this section here so that you can see the different brands of essential oils that I have used. This is not my list of essential oils to go buy. I make it clear who MY personal favorite essential oil company is, but as I stated before, using your own judgment and doing your research is very important in finding the company that you personally want to stand behind.
- Mountain Rose Herbs – (This is one of my two favorite brands) All organic & pesticide-free, wild-crafted (if available), a wonderful company with great smelling essential oils, for really decent prices. This company strives to help the environment in every way and is a zero waste company. They are certified organic by OTCO and they source their essential oils from reputable distillers that they know personally and trust.
- Plant Therapy – (This is one of my two favorite brands) Plant Therapy is another great brand that I love to use. They promote safe practices of essential oil use, give fair prices for high-quality essential oils and even created a Kid-Safe line! In the summer of 2014, Robert Tisserand joined them and helped them to create a line of safe essential oil blends for children. As one of the leading educators in the world right now for aromatherapy and safety, I was very excited to see him join up with Plant Therapy.
- Now Foods – great price, OK essential oils for cleaning house and scenting your room. You can find these at your local Whole Foods or Central Market or for the best price, on Amazon. They even have a few organic ones as well. I only use this brand for my cleaning needs because I don't like using my precious Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils on something like cleaning. You also have to pay close attention to their labels as they do sell oils that are already diluted with a carrier oil and their Jasmine oil is cut with fragrance oil to save them money, but they DO label it. (Jasmine is very expensive on its own. Don't buy their Jasmine oil because fragrance oils are what you are trying to avoid.) You can read more about NOW Foods on their FAQ page.
- Aura Casia – great smell and said to have exceptional quality chemistry. I have only tried one of their essential oils and haven't bought since, but that is only because I prefer MRH.
- 365 Brand (Whole Foods Market) – I have tried the lavender from 365 and I find it has a lovely smell and is in a very decent price range. I have used this neat on bug bites and burns and it performed wonderfully, though I know absolutely nothing about the way that these essential oils are sourced. Further investigation is needed.